ABOUT QATAR
 

Qatar also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qatar, is an Arab emirate in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the larger Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south; otherwise the Persian Gulf surrounds the state. A strait of the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the relatively nearby island nation of Bahrain.

Qatar is an oil- and gas-rich nation, with the third largest gas reserves and the highest GDP per capita in the world. An absolute monarchy, Qatar has been ruled by the al-Thani family since the mid-1800s and has since transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Qatari economy was crippled by a continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenues by the Emir, who had ruled the country since 1972. His son, the current Amir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, overthrew him in a bloodless coup in 1995. In 2001, Qatar resolved its longstanding border disputes with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Recent discoveries on the edge of an island in the West of Qatar indicate early human presence in pre-historic Qatar. Discovery of a 6th millennium BC site at Shagra, in the South-east of Qatar revealed the key role the sea (Gulf) played in the lives of Shagra’s inhabitants. Excavation at Al-Khore in the North-east of Qatar, Bir Zekrit and Ras Abaruk, and the discovery there of pottery, flint, flint-scraper tools, and painted ceramic vessels there indicates Qatar’s connection with the Al-Ubaid civilization which flourished in the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates during the period of 5th –4th millennium BC. There had also been a barter-based trading system between the settlements at Qatar and the Ubaid Mesopotamia, in which the exchanged commodities were mainly pottery and dried fish.

Al-Hadrami to Al-Mundhir Ibn Sawa Al-Tamimi, the ruler of Bahrain, which extended from the coast of Kuwait to the south of Qatar, including al-Hasa and Bahrain Islands, in the year 628, inviting him to accept Islam as he had invited other kingdoms and empires of his time such as Byzantium and Persia. Mundhir, responding to the Prophet’s call, announced his conversion to Islam, and all the inhabitants of Qatar became Muslim, heralding the beginning of the Islamic era in Qatar.

In medieval times, Qatar was more often than not independent and a participant in the great Persian Gulf–Indian Ocean commerce. Many races and ideas were introduced into the peninsula from Africa, South and Southeast Asia, as well as the Malay archipelago. Today, the traces of these early interactions with the oceanic world of the Indian Ocean survive in the small minorities of races, peoples, languages and religions, such as the presence of Africans and Shihus.

Although the peninsular land mass that makes up Qatar has sustained humans for thousands of years, for the bulk of its history the arid climate fostered only short-term settlements by nomadic tribes.

The British initially sought out Qatar and the Persian Gulf as an intermediary vantage point en route to their colonial interests in India, although the discovery of oil and other hydrocarbons in the early twentieth century would re-invigorate their interest. During the nineteenth century, the time of Britain’s formative ventures into the region, the Al Khalifa clan reigned over the Northern Qatari peninsula from the nearby island of Bahrain to the west.

Although Qatar had the legal status of a dependency, resentment festered against the Bahraini Al Khalifas along the eastern seaboard of the Qatari peninsula. In 1867, the Al Khalifas launched a successful effort to squash the Qatari rebels, sending a massive naval force to Al Wakrah. However, the Bahraini aggression was in violation on the 1820 Anglo-Bahraini Treaty. The diplomatic response of the British to this violation set into motion the political forces that would eventuate in the founding of the state of Qatar on December 18, 1878 (for this reason the date of December 18 is celebrated each year as the National Day of Qatar). In addition to censuring Bahrain for its breach of agreement, the British Protectorate (per Colonel Lewis Pelly) asked to negotiate with a representative from Qatar.

The request carried with it a tacit recognition of Qatar’s status as distinct from Bahrain. The Qataris chose as their negotiator the respected entrepreneur and long-time resident of Doha, Muhammed bin Thani. His clan, the Al Thanis, had taken relatively little part in Persian Gulf politics, but the diplomatic foray ensured their participation in the movement towards independence and their hegemony as the future ruling family, a dynasty that continues to this day. The results of the negotiations left Qatar with a new-found sense of political selfhood, although it did not gain official standing as a British protectorate until 1916.